Aug 27, 2018
Before he was twelve years old, Davell Crawford had been crowned “the Piano Price of New Orleans,” for his ability to seamlessly incorporate the sounds of the church, the streets and the New Orleans songbook. The godson of the iconic Roberta Flack and the grandson of the great vocalist/pianist/composer James “Sugar Boy” Crawford (of “Jock-A-Mo” a.k.a “Iko Iko” fame), that heritage and his innate love of performing made him an heir apparent to New Orleans pianists Fats Domino, Professor Longhair, Allen Toussaint, James Booker, Huey “Piano” Smith and Dr. John.
Displaced by Hurricane Katrina and driven by his desire to move beyond the sometimes insular world of New Orleans musicians, Davell moved east a decade ago, finally settling in Manhattan. Now past forty years old, he records and performs less than in the past, picking and choosing his projects.
Well choose he has, and from September 1-5 he will lead a crackerjack band in a tribute to one of his New Orleans heroes, Fats Domino. Walking to New Orleans features Davell leading the band on piano, backed by members of the Fats Domino Band, and supported on vocals by Cyril Neville and on drums by the incomparable Bernard “Pretty” Purdie. They can be seen in the intimate atmosphere of the City Winery franchises in Nashville (September 1), New York City (September 4) and Boston (September 5).
I spoke with Davell about the legacy of Fats Domino, how he prepares for the show, and when we might see more performances from him. Musical selections include Davell’s rendition of "Don't Ever Be Blue."